Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Short-term effect of windfarms and MPAs on fisheries: individual stress level analysis in the North Sea

With the development of marine activities such as energy, maritime traffic and the increase of areas reserved for nature conservation, the space available to fishing is shrinking. Because the closure of areas has a strong impact on their livelihood, the fishing industry wants to be part of the discussions on the selection of areas allocated to other activities than fishing. Marine areas can be very heterogeneous in terms of catch

In the North Sea, we expect to see an increase of energy- and nature conservation- related closures and fishing restrictions in shipping lanes. Those closures will largely affect the fisheries as we currently know them. We investigated the impact of potential closures on Dutch and German fleets in terms of how the current revenue would be affected by the closures, how many vessels would be directly impacted and to what degree.


The areas considered for closure investigated in the study (windmill parks, Natura 2000 areas and closed shipping lane) are important fishing grounds for the fishing industry. They cumulate up to 7 to 15% of the revenue of Dutch fisheries and 0.5 to 3% for German fisheries.

Using the development plans of wind parks and Natura 2000 areas in the North Sea, we defined scenarios of area closures that would match the expectations of policy development from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios A2 and B1 called “National Enterprise” and “Global community”. The National Enterprise scenario having less renewable energy and marine protected areas closures than the Global Community. We compared the areas closed to the 2010 spatial distribution of the Dutch and German fishing activities derived from logbook and vessel monitoring system data and calculated stress levels of the fleets expressed in percentage of revenue in closed areas.

About 8% of the 2010 revenue of the Dutch fleet and 1% of the German fleet would be potentially affected by windmill park closures and 7% and >3% by nature conservation areas closures. Shipping lanes would hardly affect the Dutch and German fishery. The total cumulative revenue affected by the A2 and B1 scenarios amount to 7 and 15% for the Dutch fleet and 0.5 and 3% for the German fleet.


Closures would affect most vessels and all fishing activities but in different intensity. The flatfish fishery is mainly impacted by offshore wind park closures while the shrimp fishery is impacted by coastal marine protected areas.

In the Dutch fleet different activities are affected differently by area closures. The Dutch shrimpers (TBS) are severely affected by the closure of nature conservations areas with more than 40% of the Dutch fleet revenue affected by those closures coming from shrimpers. In contrast, wind farms do not affect the shrimpers who are more active in areas closer to the coast with less wind farms. The stress levels of flatfish trawlers (TBB) show the opposite trend.

Whereas more than 90% of the Dutch vessel will lose at least some fishing ground in the full A2 and B1 closure scenario, several German vessels will be not affected at all in the harbours Greetsiel, Cuxhaven and Husum. However, the vessels in Büsum will all loose areas which were fished in 2010. The Dutch fisheries would be more severely impacted in the B1 scenario where 60% of the fleet would be impacted on more than 10% of their revenue against 50% for A2. It should be noted that potential closures in the German coastal zone (Wadden Sea) have not been considered in these scenarios. It can be expected that such closures would exert a high stress level on the local, especially German, shrimp fishers, but not on the fleets of larger vessels that operate further offshore.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Habitats and Birds Directive
  • Integrated European Maritime Policy (IMP)
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Lead Author:

Katell G. Hamon and Torsten Schulze
Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (DLO-IMARES)
Date of research: January 2014

Related articles:

Climate change: flatfish and shrimp fisheries 

Co-existence in busy seas: the primary sectors 

Deliberative valuation and the Dogger Bank 

Ecosystem service changes in an offshore MPA

Dogger Bank: stakeholder and policy-maker needs 

Policy and governance synthesis as a tool for stakeholders

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.